Big Men on Crampons

A brief history of glory, tragedy, and dubious achievement on the world's highest summit

Mount Everest via Shutterstock     Photo: Anton Sokolov

1852
During Britain's Great Trigonometric Survey, Peak XV is recognized as the world's tallest and named for Surveyor-General of India George Everest.

1924
Brits George Mallory and Andrew Irvine disappear on their summit bid, spurring decades of speculation about their fate.

1934
British mystic Maurice Wilson flies to India, sneaks into Tibet, and attempts the mountain. His body is found the next year.

1953
Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary knock the bastard off.

1963
Jim Whittaker makes the first American ascent on May 1. Three weeks later Tom Hornbein and Willi Unsoeld complete the West Ridge.

1978
Austrians Reinhold Messner and Peter Habeler make the first ascent without bottled oxygen.

1980
A team of Poles, led by Krzysztof Wielicki make the first winter ascent.

1983
Americans Kim Momb, Carlos Buhler, and Louis Reichardt make the first ascent of the scary-looking Kangshung Face.

1985
David Breashears leads the first guided ascent.

1996
A single storm kills eight climbers and sparks debate over guiding Everest.

1999
American Conrad Anker discovers Mallory's body at 26,760 feet. Irvine and his camera have never been found.

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